NEW YORK — Bengals great Anthony Muñoz has been in the Pro Football Hall of Fame so long that the men he inspired are following him to Canton.
Former Seattle left tackle Walter Jones, who along with ex-Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks was the only first-ballot candidate elected Saturday, paused to reflect on the man generally regarded as the best left tackle who ever lived after the 2014 Hall class was introduced at Radio City Music Hall.
Back in the late 1980s when Muñoz was at the top of his game in Cincinnati, Jones was handed something called a tape that would be put into a contraption called a VCR while growing up in Aliceville, Ala.
"That was the first thing my high school coach gave me," Jones said. "It was a VHS tape and Anthony Muñoz had a line drill on how to step, how to stay low. My coach made me watch that film every day. That's where I found the love of playing offensive line: from watching him. I was just thinking about that. There was no O-line video out there where O-linemen can show you how to play the game."
Jones didn't meet Muñoz until two years ago, when he went to Canton for teammate Cortez Kennedy's induction. He can expect it to become an annual affair. Muñoz, a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1998 as Jones began his second season in the NFL, has become one of the most recognizable members of the Hall.
"When you meet a guy like that, you just want to tell him how much they mean to (your) life and how they affected (your) career," Jones said. "You tell them, 'I watched you. I wanted to be just like you. I wanted to play the game just like you.' "
Jones says Muñoz's title as the greatest still holds up.
"For me it does," Jones said. "Everybody has opinions. Everybody watches the game in a different light. That's a guy that I watched. I can name a couple of guys. When I was first coming in, Tony Boselli was a guy that had the technique and that's how you dominate as an O-lineman."
But there is only one Muñoz in his life.
"I watched Anthony Muñoz from Day One," Jones said on the Biggest Day.
Joining Jones and Brooks in the 2014 Hall class were Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, Cardinals and Rams cornerback Aeneas Williams, Bills wide receiver Andre Reed, Raiders punter Ray Guy and Falcons and Eagles defensive end Claude Humphrey.